Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led hundreds of protesters who temporarily took over the complexes of the state High Court complex and House of Assembly complex, Port Harcourt, on Tuesday.
The protesters were demanding the swearing-in of two members of the House of Assembly, who were elected on the APC platform, Victoria Nyeche (Port Harcourt Constituency I) and Andrew Anderson Miller (Opobo/Nkoro Constituency).
Reacting however, the state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Felix Obuah, said the protest was a strategy by the APC to perpetually put on hold the rescheduled legislative rerun in the state, adding that the opposition was not prepared for the exercise.
The protesters, made up of APC members and some civil society organisations, first matched to the main gate of the state judiciary complex on Station Road and later moved to the House of Assembly Complex,on Moscow Road, to register their protest.
Addressing newsmen later, national assistant secretary of APC, Oji Ngofa, accused the state judiciary of being the legal caucus of PDP and wondered why a judge of a state High Court would allegedly overrule the ruling of the Court of Appeal on the matter.
“We are here to demonstrate our disgust and to protest against the rascality of the Rivers State Judiciary. The Rivers State Judiciary has been made like the legal caucus of the PDP and judgments that have been given are so partisan.
“So today, we came as a people that will no longer tolerate a judiciary that have been knocked down by the state government. The judiciary is meant for everybody; the judiciary shouldn’t have any party colouration. The judiciary should dispense justice to everybody equally,” he said.
However, Rivers PDP chairman, Obuah, in a statement made available to the Nigerian Tribune, said apart from the protest, the ploy by the APC included cooked-up fallacies and spurious allegations, all in a bid to stop the legislative rerun from taking place in the remaining eight local government areas of the state on Saturday, next week.
He said, before the protest, he had wondered why the APC leadership in the state had not been campaigning ahead the rerun, but rather demonstrated complacency, unlike its PDP counterpart.
“The ploy centred mainly on giving names and blackmailing some officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who they have not been able to buy over, wanting only compromised INEC officials who will do their bidding during the elections.
“Besides making unguarded and provocative statements against the PDP and its candidates for the elections, the ploy is a sign that the APC is not ready for any election and rather than suffer defeat and disgrace as usual, which is sure, prefers the “vacuum status-quo” to subsist,” he said.
The PDP chairman also said, with the protest by the PDP, the ruling party in the state would stage a counter-protest, even with greater vigor, adding, “May we also sound it loud and clear that nobody or group has the monopoly of taking to the streets rightly or wrongly to protest perceived injustice.”